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Stories of the Holocaust

How the 'Silver Torah' Survived the Nazis
A story of familial devotion and Divine oversight
Julius sent a trusted courier to his parents with a note: “Give this man the most valuable items.”
How Our Family Escaped the Nazis
The later it got, the crankier my brother became. Then he started whining and crying. He was exhausted, and wanted only to lie down and sleep. Finally the guide told them that it was too risky for him to take them any farther. “If the child’s cries were to be heard, we would all be thrown in a Spanish jail.”
A Holocaust Chanukah Miracle
Surrounded by strangers, he was afraid to strike a match or recite a blessing for fear of calling undue attention to himself and his family.
All She Remembered Was Her Name
“Listen to me, Mrs. Rosenberg,” her heavy face was flushed with excitement. “Let me take her. Why should she die, the innocent babe? I will care for her as if she was my own. I never had children, you know. Give her to me . . .”
How a Kind Word Saved Her Life
Sara no doubt felt the weight of the world on her shoulders. Her fate, and that of her family, had hung in the balance; now, very hot and tired, she had to make the long trip home with nothing to show for it...
Holy Day
A Yom Kippur in Hiding
Slowly the shelter came to life. My mother got up and prepared breakfast—a few crackers with some jam we still had left. But neither my two sisters nor my mother touched the food . . .
The Girl from Auschwitz
When the Russian army approached Auschwitz in the beginning of 1945, the Nazis evacuated the death camp. More than 15,000 are estimated to have died on this march . . .
Remarkable Dachau Survivors Reunite After Fifty Years
A man who refused to steal food, even to save his son's life
“Young fellow, were you in Dachau during the war? Were you in Camp #4?” “Yes,” I replied to both questions.
I Heard the Germans Shooting My Dovid
A Miraculous Holocaust Story
“You! Put the nooses around the necks of these Jews!” the Nazi commander barked sharply. Dovid stepped out from the masses of frightened Jews and said, “I cannot do this.” Infuriated, the commander’s wrath now spilled down upon Dovid. “Shoot him!”
I Kept My Promise to Mama - Even in Auschwitz
Standing stoically in her usual regal manner she continued: "My dear children, when the Gestapo come and get us, I do not know what will be. One thing I ask of you. Please take care of each other."
Two Candles for Sammy
I first heard of Sammy Rosenbaum in 1965, when a Mrs. Rawicz from Rabka came into my office in Vienna to testify at a War Crimes trial
Her Own Child
After years of trying and seeking help from specialists, Anya and Sol confronted the reality of their situation. “Would you want to adopt?” Anya asked one day in a tentative voice.
I learned the best strategy to deal with Bernie: avoid eye contact. Any recognition of his presence was due to invite another frenzied round of lectures, yelling, sobbing, hand-waving, stomping and door-slamming...
Sanctity in Bergen Belsen
I could not walk anymore. The frosty Polish winter, the terrible cold, the exhausting six-week death march, were too much to bear. I felt that I simply could not place one foot in front of the other. All I wanted was to sit down and give up.
Dancing With G-d
In the gas chambers, one boy shouted: "Brothers! Today is the holiday of Simchat Torah. We do not have clothes to cover us, nor a Torah scroll with which to dance. So let us dance with G‑d Himself—who is surely here among us."
The Blanket
Advice from Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel
We were all looking away; we had not known that he was severely afflicted with Parkinson's disease. Then we heard this big bang on the table: "Gentlemen, look at me, and look at me right now. Who can tell me what the lesson of the Holocaust is?"
Grandpa's Bar Mitzvah
What inspired my eighty-eight year old grandpa to finally celebrate his bar mitzvah
"Go find someone else to bother," he shot back at me. "I want nothing to do with you!" My head was spinning; I was hurt inside, yet knew I had done nothing disrespectful. Obviously, what I represent—being a religious Jew, wearing a beard and a kippah on my head— upset him so.
The soldier stared at the boy, fighting back tears. "Over these four terrible years, this is the first live Jewish child I have seen..."
The Rat
“On one very cold night I was shivering so hard, and I felt that I was freezing to death. All of a sudden, I felt a little bit of warmth . . .”
"Take these and run to Umschlagplatz. Run! Tell the kapos that your daughter is among the captured. This is an unwritten law among us -- no snatching of policemen's children"
Tefillin After 72 Years
“When was the last time you put on tefillin?” I asked. He smiled and proudly said, “72 years ago!” He held out his arm to show me the fading tattooed numbers. “1938. It was the day of Kristallnacht. Do you know what Kristallnacht is?”
One Child, Remembered
Crystallizing slowly over time in the old man’s soul was the singular obligation of telling the story of that child’s last moments.
The Other Side of the Prayerbook
At first, I was awed by his courage. But the next day I realized, to my horror, that this man was “renting out” the siddur to people in exchange for bread . . .
Parents' Love for Son Crosses the Atlantic
A son’s torment at leaving his parents behind during World War II
His parents had been painfully trying to reach him the entire time he was in Shanghai . . . For months upon months, they had not been able to make contact with him. Had he made the right decision to depart from them? What ever happened to them? Would he ever see them again?
A Rose Among the Thorns
Jewish pride in a death camp
Another violent blow landed on my other cheek. “You are still praying?” the Blockelteste asked. Her face was crimson, contorted from fury, her eyes bloodshot. A sudden Jewish pride arose within me, like a pillar of smoke rising from a chimney . . .
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